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Back to Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
regarding
THE ADMINISTRATION OF
AN EMERGENCY BAPTISM
IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Q. 1. What happens when a baby is born and the doctor says that the infant will not live beyond a few hours because of medical reasons? How can the Church Sacrament of Baptism be administered in such a case?

A. 1. In the case of an emergency, anyone, even a non-Catholic, can administer the Sacrament of Baptism, (C.C.C. # 1284) providing that certain conditions are met. Those conditions are:

(a) the person who will administer the Sacrament of Baptism must have had the intention of baptising her child.

(b) the person has to use the correct formula, the exact words that are required to make the baptism valid.

(c) the person has to sprinkle water on the forehead of the infant.

Q. 2. So what exactly does the person have to do to baptise an infant in the case of an emergency?

A. 2. You do the following:

(a) You make the sign of the cross.

(b) You pour water over the child’s head while saying the following word...

The water should be poured in three distinct intervals. The water should hit the child’s head each time when you say the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

(c) You say, “(Mention the name of the child), I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19).

The above EXACT words must be said; you CANNOT change them.

Q. 2. Does that mean that there will be no Church ceremony of Baptism?

A. 2. In most cases, there can be a Church Baptismal ceremony for two reasons:

2.1 There is a "conditional baptism" in case the first baptism was not properly administered. It is called "conditional" because a person cannot be baptised two times. If the first baptism was not valid, the "conditional baptism" will ensure that the child has been properly baptism. The baptismal date recorded in the Church registry is the date when the child was baptised the first time, usually at the hospital. In such a case, there are no names of Godparents mentioned in the registry (unless there was at least one Godparent appointed).

2.2 The Baptismal ceremony provides an opportunity for everyone involved to learn the symbolism of the Sacrament of Baptism, such consisting of the reception of the child, the symbol of water, the prayer of exocism, the oil of catechumens, the oil of chrism, the white garment, and the candle.



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